Croatian Friendship Soup photo

Croatian Friendship Soup.

I have a three-way-conversation with my friends Brenda and Jeanette via Marco Polo (a video app). Brenda is a college friend and Jeanette is Brenda’s friend who became my friend. Brenda lives in Washington and Jeanette in Utah.

Last Christmas we had several conversations and stories (we’re also in a writing club together) about our decorations and traditions along with what Christmas means to us and why, including family and friend stories from throughout the years.

In several of our conversations we, of course, talked about food. Jeanette, who comes from a Croatian heritage, described a soup she often makes on either Christmas Eve or New Year’s Day. She called it “Kelj Cuspajz” (or something like that – I did not ask her to spell it) and told me some of the ingredients.

This sent me looking for a recipe. After quite a bit of research, I came up with a version that turns out great. You may have leftover ham this time of year and may want to also try it. Because I’m a bit of a lazy cook, I made it in the Crockpot.

Although my husband is not a big soup fan, I cannot wait to make it for my girls, who are soup fans.

Croatian Friendship Soup

In your Crockpot (I use a three-quart pot) place the following:

½ cup diced celery

1 cup fresh, peeled, sliced carrots

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon lemon juice

16 ounces of chicken stock

2 cups cooked, diced ham

2 cups diced potatoes (I use red, which seem to hold their shape well in soups)

Kale (add later)

Stir all ingredients together. Place a bay leaf on top.

Cook on low in the crockpot for about six hours. This helps flavors develop. Know you probably won’t need salt as ham tends to be a little salty. Remove bay leaf, discard.

Chop a bunch of kale – about 2 cups worth, even more if you really like it (I thought I would not like it, but it’s actually very tasty in this soup).

I like to leave the kale on top of the other ingredients in the Crockpot and then let it sit there for about 30 minutes, then stir it in and let it sit about 5-to-10 minutes longer before serving.

This soup pairs really well with cornbread or biscuits. It also freezes well, though the kale is not quite as tasty once you freeze the soup.